Saturday, 16 March 2013

Le Bois Sacre



A friend of mine is celebrating six years of sobriety tomorrow.

I have no idea if she attends AA meetings, but for myself - and I suspect for many an addict -they just never did work sufficiently to put me in that place where I could achieve consistent freedom from alcohol.

Today I'm looking back down 14 years of continuous, wonderful, almost unbelievable lack of dependence on either alcohol or tranquilisers. I still sometimes dream of how it was, and I wake up terrified. Lest I forget.

I was quite surprised this week to find myself watching an episode of Law & Order - Special Victims Unit. Surprised to be watching the gods-damned telly, for sure (especially a series dedicated to murder porn in which the victims are nearly always women), but more surprised to find that the episode contained a strong endorsement for Ibogaine as a substance-abuse treatment.

Iboga - used by the Bwiti and NeoBwiti people of West Africa for ages as an initiatory drug - is found chiefly in the roots of 3 plants, 2 of which(Tabernanthe Iboga and Voacanga Africana) are found only in Africa, while the third (Tabernaemontana) flourishes as far afield as Australia.

It is quite usual for a heroin addict to break her dependency on opiates after a single-dose treatment of Ibogaine; something almost unheard of in drug rehabilitation. No scary and life-threatening withdrawals either.

This plant ally seems to work by kicking the addict gently out of her well-worn groove of substance abuse. It confers a heightened ability for introverted insight, the process sounding a little like a near death experience. Or a Shamanic Dismemberment, which I understand is its usual application in Africa.

So, all the nations of the world have picked up on this wonderful medicine and are using it to break the chains of heroin dependence throughout their lands, no?

No, of course not. In the US, Australia,Sweden,Denmark, Poland, Belgium, France and Switzerland it is a schedule I drug, tightly controlled, and even growing the plants turns one into a criminal automatically. Notice that those countries are among those with the highest level of tragedy concerning Heroin abuse.

I see that we apparently boast an Iboga treatment centre in the Western Cape in this country, though. I wonder if it's still a going concern? That would be something  - for all our violence and extreme forms of patriarchal woman abuse - of which we could be very proud.

Pic: le bois sacre, or Tabernanthe Iboga, courtesy of the vaults at Erowid